The 2019 novel coronavirus, also known as coronavirus COVID-19, is a member of a large family of viruses, which can cause a variety of illnesses in animals and humans. One type of coronavirus causes about 20% of common colds in humans. Other types of coronavirus have caused more serious illnesses in the past, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
After apparently originating in the Wuhan province of China, the coronavirus COVID-19 spread outward to several other areas, including North America. Like all members of the coronavirus family, it has a single strand of RNA to carry its genetic code. So far, it has caused illness in hundreds of people. Among those with the illness, the severity has varied from simple “cold symptoms” all the way up to death. The fraction of those with a severe infection is a small portion of the total number infected with coronavirus, based on initial data.
The Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC)’s Novel Coronavirus in China alert is the best source for up-to-date information, as well as the Indiana State Department of Health’s coronavirus information page.
There are several measures which reduce the likelihood of getting or spreading the virus:
- Regularly wash your hands and use alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
- Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze.
- Do not share food or drinks.
- Avoid close contact with people who have fever, coughing, sneezing, or difficulty breathing.
- Keep yourself away from others if you have fever, coughing, sneezing, or difficulty breathing.
When a person has the virus, they may have a fever (above 100.4F), cough and difficulty breathing. These symptoms overlap with several other common illnesses, including influenza.
If you are experiencing these symptoms, your health care provider will ask about recent travel or possible exposure to other people who are known to have the 2019 coronavirus. At-risk individuals may undergo a physical examination, lab testing, or additional consultation with experts, if needed.
The virus originated in an animal species, although at this time, it is unclear which animals may have been the original source. The outbreak may have began when a human made contact with an animal infected by the virus. From there, the virus began spreading among humans, mainly by exposure to coughing, sneezing or close physical contact. World travel has amplified the spread from the original area.
There is no specific remedy or cure for this infection. People with the infection are treated with commonly available medications. The most seriously ill people require treatment at a hospital.
Not yet, but one may become available over the next several months.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is tracking the spread of the disease. You can read more about it on this Coronavirus Situation Summary, which includes a map.
Currently, there are no known cases in the IU community.
University administration and campus health officials, in coordination with local health departments, the Indiana State Department of Health and the CDC, continue to closely monitor the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus COVID-19-related illnesses in China and in individuals who recently traveled in East Asia or Southeast Asia.
IU is following the CDC guidelines on screening and response protocols and will continue to issue updates as the outbreak unfolds.
In light of cold and flu season and this current outbreak of a new virus, follow these best practices to help prevent the spread of illnesses:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water.
- Get an annual flu (influenza) shot through your primary care provider, local minute clinic, or campus health center.
- Stay away from ill people and stay away from others if you are ill.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with your elbow or tissue.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Use single use tissue and dispose immediately.
- Do not share drinks, food, or utensils.
- Get good sleep and drink plenty of water.
- Clean and disinfect common touch surfaces frequently.
- Avoid large or crowded events if you feel sick.
Please call your primary health care provider or your IU campus health center if you:
- Have traveled to Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, or
- Have traveled to China, or
- Were in close contact with a person who is under investigation for coronavirus while they were ill OR has a laboratory-confirmed case within the last 14 days
- Have symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath.
When you call, please inform them of your symptoms and recent travel or potential exposure before going to the health facility.